To Spybait Or Not To Spybait?
A Tale of the Canadian Collegiate Bass Anglers Championship
This past summer I had the opportunity to fish the Canadian Collegiate Bass Anglers series. 2014 was my first season as a registered bass angler and I believed I had the knowledge and the skill-set to be competitive, so I gave it my best. The tournament was held on Georgian Bay, a body of water I had fished only once before and learned a lot from my time on the water. Sitting in my room that night before the tournament, I recalled on my past experience on Georgian Bay, the things I felt I did right and the things I did wrong. As I prepared my rods and reels for the Championship event, I noticed my dropshot reel was broken. Luckily I was able to contact a good friend Simon Frost who provided me with a replacement. I showed up to his house and he handed me a G.Loomis NRX Dropshot rod with a Shimano Stradic Ci4+ attached to it! While staring at this beautiful piece of equipment, which I was scared to use since it costs more than I make in a week, I noticed there was a Jackall I-Prop spybait attached to it. I asked Simon “you want me to cut this off?” to which Simon replied “you’ve used those before, take it with you and see how it works.” I returned home, and while contemplating my strategy I remembered a key piece of information from the last time I fished Georgian Bay…I did not catch any fish. As I thought about what I was going to do going into this tournament one thought came to mind…“Remember what Simon said about spybaiting.” I was relatively new to the technique at the time, but based on some time on Lake Erie the Jackall I-Prop, I knew this bait caught fish.
As the tournament started and we pulled into our first spot I thought to myself “these fish are going to be lazy, let’s wake them up”, so right out of the gate I decided to throw the I-Prop. For those of you not familiar with spybaits, it is a relatively simple lure; it is a minnow shaped bait with propellers on the front and back. I know what you are thinking, but no, this bait is not a topwater bait, in fact it sinks at about a 1ft per second rate. Retrieving this bait with at a slow steady pace causes a loud buzzing sound in the water, which is sure to rile up any bass in the surrounding area.
After only 5 casts with the Jackall I-Prop I had landed my first fish, and about 10 minutes into the tournament I was up 3.5lbs. I thought to myself “ok, we may have stumbled onto something here, keep going.” I continued to cast the spybait throughout the day interchanging with a fluke and a dropshot, but he I-Prop spybait outperformed my other baits, hands down. The tournament was a 3 fish limit, and all of the fish I brought to the weigh in were caught on the I-Prop.
At the end of the day I had weighed in three fish for 8.70lbs, which I’m happy to say was enough to win the tournament and send me to the Boat US Collegiate National Tournament on Lake Pickwick in Florence, Alabama as the Canadian Representatives. The Jackall I-Prop single handily proved to me that if you think outside your normal presentations it could pay off big time.
I have continued to use spybaits, and found that when throwing a spybait light line is a must. I normally use a Shimano Crucial Dropshot rod with 8lb Bass Pro Shops 100% Fluorocarbon. Set your drag a little looser than you normally would so you don’t have to worry about snapping off feisty fish. I encourage all anglers to experiment with these baits and find which presentations and colours suit you best, but for the Canadian Collegiate Bass Anglers Championship I was using a Jackall I-Prop 75. Jackall offers a wide variety of colours to suit any situation you may encounter. This bait simply catches fish, btu I found it best for pressured lethargic fish in relatively shallow waters.
To sum it up, my experience with the spybait has taught me a lot about fishing in general. Sometimes “what always works” isn’t always your best route to catching quality fish, a little outside the box thinking and a little patience with the spybait can produce high numbers of quality bass. It doesn’t hurt to have a little luck on your side, who knows what would have happened if I didn’t have a broken reel? I would not have ended up at Simon Frost’s house, thinking “you’ve used those before, take it with you and see how it works” If you have not tried a spybait before, get out there and give it a go, you will not be disappointed.